I live in a Federation Arts & Craft house with my sister, and I was keen to visit a few Arts & Crafts houses whilst in the UK. After all, it is the country where the movement began!
The Birmingham region has two significant Arts & Crafts style houses. The first is the National Trust managed Wightwick Manor, a Victorian house where the influence of William Morris is strongly displayed in the interior design and fittings. The other A&C house is Winterbourne House, part of the University of Birmingham. Winterbourne showcases the skills of local craftsmen in the physical structure and interior design of the house, as well as the layout, design and planting of the garden.
Having now visited both of the houses, Winterbourne House wins hands down. Visitors are only able to view the ground floor and kitchen area of the house, but the gardens are beautifully laid out and retain their original design, along with containing over 6,000 plant varieties from all over the world.
Wightwick Manor on the other hand is rather a hotch-potch of architectural and interior design styles. The house, built in Victorian times, is Jacobean in design, all wooden beams, with well lit rooms leading off a heavy(think timber coming at you from all angles), unlit entry hall. The house contains a large collection of William Morris textiles, carpets and furnishings as well as Pre-Raphaelite paintings & De Morgan tiles. But it is so crammed full of knick-knacks that it is rather like visiting an Arts & Crafts kleptomaniac's house. The original owner of the house, being part of the Temperance Movement, paid the manager of the pub - that had to remain on his land - extra money for every non-alcoholic drink he sold!
Dining in Birmingham
While in Edinburgh we dined at Restaurant Opus. They use as much sustainable product as they can purchase, and buy locally. They have a well priced set "market menu" as well as the usual a-la-carte option.
Prawn cocktail was my entree, lovely baby prawns wrapped in fresh mayo on a bed of shredded lettuce. My main was Shepherd's Pie/Cottage Pie. Got to love visiting the past! The beef was tender, melting in the mouth, combined with a full flavoured demi-glaze sauce ensuring the beef married with the peas. On top of the pie was that fab 70's style piped mashed potato. A very drinkable & affordable Bordeaux Chateau Tour de Biot accompanied our meal. We luckily finished up just as a big, rowdy group came in, so good timing!